05/12/2009 9:00 AM ET
Top 10 upcoming promotions
Teams celebrate the worthy, the underappreciated, the obscure
By Benjamin Hill / Special to MLB.com
Minor League teams are known for their game-day promotions. On Tuesdays for the remainder of the season, we'll preview 10 of the best for the week ahead. If you'd like a particular promotion to be considered for this feature in the future, please send it to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line: "Promo Preview."
Corpus Christi Hooks (Texas League)
Salute to Service, May 11-16
The Hooks' "Salute to Service" week, which began on Monday, is a comprehensive celebration of the strong military presence in the Corpus Christi area. The club will stage a fundraiser for the USO on Wednesday, and the next night features half-price tickets for military members as well as a pre-game Air Force swearing-in ceremony. The theme of Friday's game is "Soldiers on the Big Screen," in which pre-recorded messages from servicemen and women will be shown on the videoboard. It all concludes Saturday, when the 60th anniversary of Armed Forces Day will be commemorated with a bevy of events. The first 2,000 fans through the gates receive Hooks' camo jerseys, which for all intents and purposes will render them invisible.
Bowie Baysox (Eastern League)
Rock, Paper, Scissors Tournament, May 14
Those who have the ability to regularly smother rocks with paper, cut paper with scissors and smash scissors with rocks should sign up for the Baysox's Rock, Scissors, Paper tournament. A ticket to that Friday's game, a two-hour buffet and a spot in the tournament costs $20. And as always, to the victor will go the spoils. In this case, said spoils include a skybox suite for 25 people, the opportunity to throw out the first pitch at the game and a Baysox prize pack highlighted by a Matt Wieters bobblehead and an autographed Wieters ball. Of course, all of this will pale in comparison to the lifelong feeling of satisfaction that results from being crowned a Rock, Scissors, Paper champion.
Fresno Grizzlies (Pacific Coast League)
Mad Tight 90s Night featuring Mr. Belding, May 14
When the Grizzlies stage a promotion celebrating the pop culture of a now-deceased decade, you can be sure that they're going to go all-out in doing it. That's just how they operate. "Mad Tight 90s Night" is the inevitable sequel to last year's "Totally Rad 80s Night" blowout, which featured a rare promotional appearance by Karate Kid bad guy Bill Zabka. This year's guest is Dennis Haskins, who played "Mr. Belding" on the immortal "Saved By the Bell." Haskins will throw out the first pitch, sign autographs, and participate in "Belding-on-Belding" trivia during the game. Also on the agenda is a special performance by the Drag Kings (baseball's premier dancing grounds crew), as well as player headshots doctored to look like iconic '90s album covers.
Jacksonville Suns (Southern League)
Valentine's Day in May, May 14
Dale Murphy/Andre Dawson Appearance, May 15
If your love life is still suffering as a result of forgetting Valentine's Day, don't despair. Simply bring your sweetheart to Thursday's Suns game. Upon entering the stadium, she'll receive a long-stem rose, and then you'll be able to wine her and dine her throughout the evening (taking advantage of $1 beer specials, of course). Single ladies might want to just hold on to their roses, however. They can bring them back to the ballpark the next night in an attempt to woo the evening's two guests of honor: Dale Murphy and Andre Dawson. This pair of former National League MVPs will be on hand to sign autographs, pose for pictures and ward off misguided attempts to win their affection via the gift of day-old flowers.
Toledo Mud Hens (International League)
Fleetwood Walker 125th Anniversary Celebration, May 14
In my opinion, Fleetwood Walker is one of the most overlooked individuals in professional baseball history. He accomplished a lot in his 67 years, but his primary claim to fame was that he was the first African-American to appear in a Major League game. He achieved this feat with the Toledo Blue Stockings in 1884, before professional baseball had established a rigid color line. This year marks the 125th anniversary of Walker's big league debut, and the Toledo Mud Hens will commemorate that prior to Thursday's game. Mark Palmer, Walker's great grand-nephew, will catch the game's ceremonial first pitch (to be thrown by his son, Mark Jr.). In a nod to how things were done in the 19th century, Palmer will catch the pitch barehanded.
Huntsville Stars (Southern League)
World Record Wiffle Ball Game, May 15
The current world record for "longest wiffle ball game" is 30 hours. This weekend, the Huntsville Stars are aiming to play for 44 hours straight. Why not, right? The game will start upon the conclusion of that Friday's contest between the Stars and the Chattanooga Lookouts, and it will run all the way through Sunday evening. Fans wishing to get in on the action can do so by paying $1, which will go toward a local chapter of Habitat for Humanity. Best of all, I will be in attendance at this event, intent on documenting the experience of playing wiffle ball for nearly two days straight. My guess is that this will be the greatest experience of my life, or the worst.
Myrtle Beach Pelicans (Carolina League)
Chris "Butter" Ball Bobblehead Giveaway, May 15
Salute to #2, May 17
To paraphrase James Brown, "Give the groundskeeper some!" The Pelicans will be doing just that Friday, when they honor three-time Carolina League Groundskeeper of the Year, Chris "Butter" Ball, with his very own bobblehead doll. Two days later, the Pelicans will be honoring those who, for one reason or another, aren't the best at what they do. It's Salute to #2 Night (yes, I know, this brings to mind something else), in which the club will be honoring famous runners-up. Both John McCain and Pelicans mascot Deuce will receive special recognition, and those who show up at the ballpark wearing a silver medal get in free (Note: Not true).
Burlington Bees (Midwest League)
Community Basket Day, May 17
The Bees' annual "Community Basket Day" provides me, yet again, with an opportunity to plagiarize myself. Enjoy this slightly modified writeup, which first appeared in 2007: Burlington's "Community Basket Day" is an annual fundraiser organized by the non-profit Chicken Lip Foundation. The titular basket consists of products donated by dozens of local businesses, which will be raffled off to one lucky winner during Sunday's game. The raffle tickets are $2 apiece and sold by a number of local non-profit organizations, which get to keep $1 of every ticket they sell. This year's basket is highlighted by a 2009 Chevy Aveo and also includes beer and savings bonds (among many other fine goods and services).
Charleston RiverDogs (South Atlantic League)
Fun Is Good Golf Tournament, May 19
The RiverDogs are on the road this week, and still they find a way to make it into this column. This time, it's because of Tuesday's Fun Is Good Golf Tournament. This charity event costs $500 to play per foursome and features 18 holes of golf. Nine of these holes adhere to golf's strait-laced and serious side, while the other nine most decidedly do not. During this half of the tournament, there will be opportunities to get massages from nuns, aim at kegs on the fairway in order to win free beer, and to play while dressed as Mrs. Doubtfire (among other perversions of standard operating procedure). The lesson here, as with absolutely everything else the RiverDogs do, is "Fun Is Good."
Reading Phillies (Eastern League)
Gluttony Night, May 19
In recent years, special "All You Can Eat" sections have become commonplace at Minor League stadiums. But no team has ever attempted to make the entire stadium an all-you-can-eat section -- until now. Tuesday is Gluttony Night in Reading, in which a $12 ticket also includes unlimited concessions. This deal features hot dogs, french fries, pizza, funnel cakes, soda and more, and will extend from the time the gates open at 5:30 p.m. all the way through the seventh-inning stretch. People of Reading, now is your time to shine -- show the world just how much you are capable of eating when money ceases to be an issue.
Bonus Coverage -- In an alternate reality, the following promotions were written about in last week's column. In our reality, they were not.
Charleston RiverDogs (South Atlantic League)
Talk Like Ah-nald Night, May 6
In which all in attendance were encouraged to speak as if they were the governor of California.
Lakeland Flying Tigers (Florida State League)
Jim Leyland Bobblehead Giveaway, May 8
Bobbling cigarette optional.
Frederick Keys (Carolina League)
Matt Wieters Bobblehead Giveaway, May 9
Those in the know will tell you that Wieters will one day be the greatest baseball player in the history of all time. Therefore, this will one day become the greatest bobblehead of all time.
Toledo Mud Hens (International League)
Moms Rule Night w/ soap star Daniel Goddard, May 10
The moms of Toledo were given the opportunity to swoon over a Young and the Restless star for a full nine innings.
Rochester Red Wings (International League)
Doug Marrone Appearance, May 11
Syracuse University's new football coach has been making the rounds of late, getting on the fans' good side while he still has the chance.
Memphis Redbirds (Pacific Coast League)
Keith McDonald Bobblehead Giveaway, May 12
With a bobble bobble here and bobble bobble there. Here a bobble, there a bobble ... Oh, forget it.
Trenton Thunder (Eastern League)
Ketchup and Mustard Dispenser Set Giveaway, May 12
Finally, Trentonians now have a means to stylishly and conveniently store their previously unwieldy condiments.
Benjamin Hill is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.